A letter from mission co-worker Chenoa Stock, serving in Peru
September 14, 2019
I could not understand what he was saying as he responded to the questions in Quechua, the local language of the high jungle. But judging by the reactions of the onlookers and of his wife, this older man, who was on his knees washing his wife’s feet although he was most likely the “man of the household,” was learning not only about hygiene, but about humility and love as well.
In the high jungle province of Convención, six hours north of Cusco, the man was one of many community members waiting to be seen by a medical mission team that arrived from First Presbyterian Church of Bryan, Texas. The hygiene classes were taught in the waiting area of the Evangelical Church of Peru’s Sajiruyoc Bible Institute, where the medical campaign was carried out. This man and his wife may have walked several miles or waited from 3 a.m., as many others did, to receive the free services of the team’s doctors and physical therapists for ailments they would have probably otherwise ignored. Many patients seen by the physical therapists were given exercises to help ease their aches and pains from their daily manual labor, while others were seen by general practitioners and nurses for different ailments.
First Presbyterian Church has worked in partnership with the Evangelical Church of Peru’s Sajiruyoc Bible Institute and its members since 2013, when they helped prepare the land for the institute’s building, which First Presbyterian also helped construct. With the construction now complete, the church held the first medical campaign last year to bring together a team with diverse medical knowledge to continue to serve their brothers and sisters in the high jungle.
But, as is always the case in partnership, those who arrived to serve and give also received. For four days, the Sajiruyoc Institute was full of metaphorical foot washing. Doctors, physical therapists, nurses and others gave medical advice, prescribed medicine and taught the patients how to use equipment. But in working with these community members, learning about their lifestyles and hearing their stories, one could not help but be humbled and inspired by such loving and persevering people.
As this trip came to an end, our goodbyes soon became more hellos when we joined a Joining Hands delegation from the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, partnered with the Joining Hands Peru Network, Uniendo Manos Peru. This group was on a Joining Hands Reflection/Action trip to learn more about the network’s advocacy campaign for human and environmental rights. The 20-year partnership between the network and PC(USA) congregations and presbyteries has always followed the network partner’s needs and initiatives. It has focused on economic development by creating a fair-trade partnership through Bridge of Hope and Partners for Just Trade between artisans in Peru and customers in the U.S. It has also focused on the environmental contamination by a lead smelter in La Oroya and on international trade agreements. It is now prioritizing passing a national health care bill.
This learning time together included hearing from communities affected by the lead smelter and mining contamination, seeing a local reforestation project launched in response to the contamination and visiting artisans who work for the fair-trade market.
So, after 16 straight days of traveling, God’s people, we learned more than we could have imagined. We saw the positive effects of immediate and direct medical care, but we also learned about the need to address the deeper, systemic issues at hand beyond immediate care, and to call for health care legislation that would protect all Peruvians, especially those affected by industrial contamination.
We of PERUSA invite you to join us in Peru on a delegation trip or, if that is not possible, to support our work in Peru through your financial contributions. But the best gifts are your prayers for our mission here and that we continue to grow in our knowledge and relationships with our global partners. We could not be here with them without your support and partnership and are graciously humbled by that.
Chenoa Stock, Mission Co-Worker in Peru, serving with the Evangelical Church of Peru and the Joining Hands Peru Network
Today’s Focus: Partnerships
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
Gracious God, give us humble hearts so that we can recognize the gifts of others and encourage the use of those gifts for the edification of your church. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the one who teaches us your ways. Amen.